How fortuitous that the last three words all start with Alef; they are: “Ani ohev otchah! I love you!” (Picture book. 2-6)

READ REVIEW

ALEF IS FOR ABBA

Writing an ABC book has its challenges, as the end of the book may involve a xylophone, yogurt and a zebra; Kafka’s story is refreshingly unarbitrary.

Fortunately, the author had to work with only one letter of the alphabet, the Hebrew letter Alef. The book presents two back-to-back stories about a father and a mother, Abba and Ima in Hebrew, both of which begin with Alef, as do all the Hebrew words that follow. (Each word appears three times: in Hebrew characters, Romanized Hebrew and English.) Each story follows the family from morning till night. The one focusing on Ima begins with light (or) shining through the window and ends with a big meal (aruchah) after dark. Even the odder word choices are appropriate and can be strangely moving. Nose (af) shows up when the mother rubs noses with her son at bedtime. And happiness (osher) is represented by toys strewn all over the floor and the furniture. After children read about Abba (or Ima), they then flip the book over for the other story. The word choices mostly avoid stereotypes, but it’s too bad that only Abba gets to leave the house; Ima is busy cooking. Basaluzzo’s brightly colored illustrations are charming without being sentimental.

How fortuitous that the last three words all start with Alef; they are: “Ani ohev otchah! I love you!” (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2156-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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